If you’re a beginner who follows the work of more advanced freelance writers, you’re probably aware of the controversy that surrounds picking a freelance writing niche.
Perhaps you’ve been in turmoil since you began freelancing for a living, wondering if you should take on gigs in any industry or limit your interests down to one or two areas of expertise.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. We’ve all been there at one point or another.
Personally, I was lucky that I already had one niche in mind before I started freelance writing.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to work in the fashion industry. Therefore, thanks to my Fashion Marketing university degree and work experience I gained prior to freelancing, fashion naturally became my primary niche. Then travel became my secondary niche after I backpacked around the world twice.
But that’s another story.
Newsflash: There are many benefits of niching down in the freelance writing industry. I mean, haven’t you ever heard of the phrase “the riches are in the niches”?
Say you were a client looking for a writer with a dentistry background to write the copy for your new dental practice, would you choose the medical writer who specialises in dentistry or the one who doesn’t have a specialism? Think about it.
Struggling to decide where to focus? No worries – read on for my top tips (plus expert advice) on how to find a profitable freelance writing niche that works for you.
Utilise Your Passions
The first step to finding your freelance writing niche is to figure out what interests you. Whether it’s business, insurance or birds that don’t have wings, find out what you love and run with it.
Having trouble pinpointing your passions? Not to worry – simply create a good ol’ spider diagram. (You know, the ones that they make you create at school during brainstorming sessions.)
Put your name in the middle and draw a leg for every hobby or interest that you have. Then, when you’re done and your spidey has however many legs, pin the ‘gram to your bedroom/office wall (for me, it’s one of the same) for daily inspo until you figure out which one or two legs are calling to you the most.
After all, there’s no point writing full-time about a niche that doesn’t remotely interest you – and you plan to do this as a career for years to come, right?
Figure Out What You Know
If you’re still struggling, ask yourself what you know about the world? What are you an expert in?
Do you have qualifications in a certain field? Did you excel in history at school? Do you know everything that there is to know about cardboard recycling? (Hey, each to their own!)
Consider your passions, but also be smart when you’re picking out a niche. Take advantage of your subject knowledge so that you can wow your clients with inside information that no one else knows to create demand for your world-class content – because that’s how you start making the big bucks, my friend.
Draw From Your Past Work Experience
Your passions and knowledge aren’t the only avenues for identifying your freelance writing niche. Why not draw inspiration from your past jobs and employment too?
For instance, I worked in various jobs in the fashion industry before I started freelance writing. Mentioning my past work experience makes me stand out from the crowd when I pitch to fashion clients and tell them about my credentials. (I know – check me out, right?)
If you’re struggling, take a scan over your CV and pick out some industries where you think you could make a difference with your knowledge and experiences. Then get pitching to clients in those industries and watch in awe as the email responses come a-flooding in.
Work Out Where the Money Is
Okay, say that you love your fur baby so much that you decide you want to write about dogs for a living. That’s fair enough. Suppose you manage to find a client who has their own online pets magazine (or similar), but then you realise that this client is only going to pay you $0.02 per word for every article you write for them.
Do you take the gig? Even though you really want to make this niche work for you?
The answer is: it’s completely up to you. That said, personally, I don’t think that $0.02 is going to pay a millennial’s bills.Follow your heart when it comes to choosing your niche, for sure, but also don't forget to use your head. Click To Tweet
And don’t be afraid of turning down work if the client isn’t prepared to pay you for what you’re worth. After all, a gal’s got to eat!
If One Niche Isn’t Working, Simply Try Another!
Always remember that picking a freelance writing niche (or niches) is all about trial and error. There’s no right or wrong way to pick a niche and the niche you choose is entirely your decision.
And what if one niche isn’t going according to plan? What if you can’t find high-paying work in that niche or you’re struggling to write about a topic that you thought you were an expert in?
Well, simply choose another niche, hun. No judgment here.
It’s actually highly unlikely that you will land on your long-term niche straight away anyway. I mean, take the journeys of the following experts, for example.
Niche(s): Digital marketing for small businesses including content marketing, email marketing, blogging tips, social media marketing and sales page marketing
How did you choose your freelance writing niche(s)?
“I did not choose this niche; instead, it revealed itself after trying to find freelance writing jobs. At first, my niche was about natural health and education and as I researched how to market my freelance writing business, I fell in love with this niche!
Then, as luck would have it, a prospect reached out to me and asked if I would like to write about social media marketing. I did not let them know that this was new territory for me. Instead, I did have a sample in my growing portfolio about social media and that helped me land this client.
So when looking back, I decided on my niche and tried to find gigs in that niche, but I was unlucky. I still managed to build my portfolio with somewhat random topics before I was finally able to land a client in a niche I was interested in – digital marketing.”
Niche: B2B marketing
How did you choose your freelance writing niche(s)?
“I chose my freelance writing niche after working in-house at an SEO agency. I was their main copywriter, meaning I worked on content pieces for any client. From wall cladding manufacturers to pet insurance, it was varied, to say the least!
This helped me to suss-out the type of writing I wanted to do. I got the chance to work on several pieces of content for several clients, but I eventually found that I enjoyed writing for the agency itself, more than the clients… Hence why I’m now a B2B marketing copywriter!”
Niche(s): Insuretech, finance, startups, solopreneurs and small businesses
How did you choose your freelance writing niche(s)?
“When I first started freelancing, I was adamantly against choosing a niche. Why limit myself (and my potential income) to only one small field? But as the old cliche goes, fate had something in store for me.
Before launching my freelance business, I had previously worked as a licensed insurance agent. I had experience and in-depth knowledge about most major insurance products and understood more nuanced details about insurance as a whole (like underwriting, how premiums are determined, etc.). I leveraged my insurance license and expertise to land my first client before I even had much of a portfolio to point to. The more posts I wrote about insurance, the more insurance-related writing requests hit my inbox. After a while, I started to realize that, despite my inclinations against niching, I had fallen into the insurance niche (and it was paying my bills!).
Funnily enough, writing in the insurance niche eventually expanded to finance (which is a close cousin to insurance), and then for startups, solopreneurs and small businesses. Niching into insurance laid the foundation for what’s become a very healthy and stable freelance career with multiple niches.”
Don’t Limit Yourself
Mr. Mattia makes a very valid point. Even though some fellow freelancers may disagree, you don’t necessarily have to stick with just one niche. No siree.
If you’re able to find high-paying clients in other niches, it doesn’t hurt to have many strings to your bow so-to-speak. In fact, being diverse and adaptable is a smart business move rather than limiting yourself when you don’t really need to.
If you’re worried about niching down completely, then you don’t have to do it. Do what’s best for your business, taking inspiration from Mr. Hancock.
Freelance Writing Niche(s): N/A
“If I did have a niche I guess it would be digital marketing, given that it’s the subject I’ve written about the most over the years. More recently I’ve written a lot for SaaS companies so that could easily be a niche too. But, alas I don’t have one.
I know the benefits of having one and I know different ways of going about picking one, but I’ve never wanted to settle on a niche. I like working in B2B and B2C and I enjoy working for businesses of different sizes and stature.
And not having a niche has done me no harm whatsoever. Could I earn more money if I had a niche? Maybe. But everything is working perfectly at the moment and I’ve no plans to change just yet.
If I was to give advice to any new writers I would say, look to find a niche but don’t fret over it. Not having a niche doesn’t mean your career won’t take off. If you’re a good writer you’ll get work. And once you’re working, maybe you’ll find something you really enjoy writing about that can be a niche.
… Or you can just be a niche nomad like me.”
Picking a Profitable Freelance Writing Niche
Even though it can be challenging trying to analyse your passions, qualifications, experiences and knowledge to choose a freelance writing niche (or niches), it’s worth trying to align your focus in some way.
Whether you decide to niche right down or focus on a few subject areas, be sure to try out several options to find out which ones work. It doesn’t matter if they’re completely different from your original expectations. In the business world, you just have to learn to roll with the punches!
Also, remember that you’re likely going to have to spend hours writing about your niche, so make sure that it’s something you’re really into. I mean, the last thing you want to do is fall asleep at your keyboard every day.
Have you picked just one freelance writing niche? Or do you have more than one? Let me know in the comments!